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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Silverton 35

It was a perfect day in Ft. Meyers. The sun was shining, a faint breeze wafted across the marina behind the Chart House Restaurant, and the Silverton 35 Motor Yacht was tied alongside a weathered old dock there, nose-out and ready to go. Passing the restaurant, I felt a little thrill of anticipation upon seeing the 35 for the first time, the same thrill I've enjoyed since I was a kid. Whether we're talking canoes, Great Lakes ore carriers, or curvy little motoryachts with two staterooms, a fair-size saloon, and two heads, I still love taking a boat ride.

I clattered down the gangway to the docks and headed for our test boat, noting an upbeat detail almost immediately: The Raymarine radar scanner was secured atop a lofty, welded-aluminum radar arch, well above the hardtop. This was a gratifying sight, given the drum banging I've done over the years, trying to get manufacturers to stop mounting radar scanners at low, brain-frying levels on flying bridges.

Another upbeat attribute manifested about the same time as a voice boomed from inside, over the sound of a slamming refrigerator door. "Hang on Bill, I'll help you with your gear." The voice belonged to Silverton rep Chip Shea, who promptly appeared on the aft deck with a cold bottle of water—it gets hot in November in Ft. Meyers—and a helpful suggestion. The stern of the 35, he told me, was designed with extra cleats, handrails, and molded stairwells, all configured to allow easy boarding on two levels. Fixed docks at low tide would dictate the use of the boarding gate at the rear of the aft deck, but since I was standing on a floating dock, he advised me to carry the stuff across the considerably lower swim platform and then up the molded stairway to the aft deck.

Not long after we'd got everything onboard, I seated myself at the comfy flying-bridge helm station and cranked our 385-hp Crusaders as Shea began casting off lines. In past test reports on cruisers of the 35's ilk, I've bemoaned the practice of installing split engine controls on gasoline-powered motoryachts because the engines have comparatively little torque at idle speed, and so boathandlers are constrained to manipulate both shifts and throttles while maneuvering them, a task tantamount to walking and chewing gum simultaneously.

Guess what? Silverton's come up with a gasoline-fired powerplant for the 35 with gutsy, 20"x18" four-blade wheels and a torque-boosting gear ratio of 2:1 that works pretty darn well with split controls. Sure, I'd be lying if I said I was an ace at maneuvering the 35 right out of the gate; split controls have never been my thing and never will be. Moreover, I'd be lying if I denied having a little trouble returning the 35 to her berth after the sea trial, walking and chewing gum being a skill I've never been that comfortable with, either. But the bite of the props felt so positive in both instances, I have no problem declaring that I'm a fan of the 35's gasoline option, split controls or no.

Once underway, the 35 scooted across the Caloosahatchee River like a scared dolphin, with solid transverse stability in turns, thanks to a fairly flat Don Blount-designed running surface. Top end was 33.2 mph, with a fuel-burn of 70.4 gph, a hefty amount but consistent with the horsepower rating of our Crusader. Pulling the throttles back to approximately 25 mph cut fuel consumption by half, a radical improvement. Sightlines forward were excellent, primarily due to the elevation of the bridge deck, and I liked that I could see the transom while backing down, thanks to the open space under the hardtop and an open boarding gate.

I examined the 35's interior once I'd returned her safely to her berth behind the Chart House, a chore Shea expedited by tossing a long bomb of a bight over a cleat, giving me an instant spring line to work the boat against, not the first time linehandling savvy has saved a boathandler's bacon. My first look at the saloon/galley/dinette area engendered surprise. The 35 was certainly not the first Silverton I'd tested, but it had the nicest-looking joinery of any of them. The dinette table, as well as passageway doors, were well crafted of solid cherry, varnished to a smooth, satin glow. Galley drawers had solid cherry fronts as well, with Accuglide powder-coated steel sliders. Bulkhead veneers were accurately routered and fitted, and the raised-panel head doors were as crisply carpentered as the rest.

Equipage was top-notch. Mattresses in the forward VIP and master aft were both of the marinized innerspring type from Handcraft Mattress Company. The convertible UltraLeather sofa in the saloon bore the Flexsteel logo, and faucets and other plumbing fixtures, including a telescoping galley faucet, were from Moen. Galley appliances were top-notchers, too, as the accompanying standards list indicates. Countertops were Corian throughout, and all carpeting was thick, tight, and Scotchgarded. "We've done some upgrading over the last few years," Shea summarized.

The company has also put some serious effort into creating innovative layouts, it appears. The 35 has two shower stalls, twice what you'll find on most midrange motoryachts these days. Each is separate, with standing headroom, a folding door, and a molded seat. Little genius was required to incorporate this sort of feature into the master head, which is all the way aft on the port side—the company simply stole space from the master itself, a ploy that's hardly noticeable given the stateroom's full-beam width. Adding a separate stall to the forward head was a trickier proposition, however. Silverton put it on the starboard side of the boat, just abaft the VIP bulkhead, and kept the MSD and sink in a separate compartment across the hall.

I finished up the test by looking at aspects of the 35's engineering and design. I liked most of them—for example, the hull-to-deck flanges that are joined with elastomeric sealant, butyl tape, and stainless steel bolts; and the tried-and-true laminate schedules that contain nothing more esoteric than 2415 stitchmat and end-grain balsa. But a couple bothered me, like the inadequate lighting in the machinery spaces and the unfortunate positioning of a faucet control in the back of the molded seat in the forward shower stall, which makes sitting comfortably a little tough.

In the end, though, I came to an overall thumbs-up conclusion. Not only is the 35 Motor Yacht the most nicely finished and laid out Silverton I've ever tested, she also handles like a champ around a dock, even with split controls.

Silverton Marine Corporation
(877) 863-5298

This article originally appeared in the February 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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